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Winfield v. Wilson

United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division

March 3, 2015

ROBERT LEE WINFIELD, JR, Petitioner,
v.
ERIC D. WILSON, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Robert E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge

Robert Lee Winfield Jr., a federal inmate proceeding pro se, filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 ("§ 2241 Petition, " ECF No. 1). On December 2, 2014, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that the Court dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction. Winfield has filed five objections. (ECF No. 13.) For the reasons that follow, Winfield's objections will be overruled and the action will be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

The Magistrate Judge made the following findings and recommendations:

A. Procedural History and Summary of Winfield's Claims

After a jury trial, the Court convicted Winfield of "participation in a continuing criminal enterprise, murder and attempted murder during the course of the continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, and other offenses related to the use of firearms and cocaine base trafficking, " and the Court sentenced Winfield to life in prison with consecutive terms imposed for the firearms convictions. United States v. Williams, Nos. 96-4648, 96-4649, 96-4650, 96-4651, 96-4652, 1998 WL 120116, at *1 (4th Cir. March 5, 1998), For the continuing criminal enterprise count (hereinafter "CCE") under 21 U.S.C. § 848(a) and (c) charged in Count Two[1], the jury unanimously found that the three predicate felony counts were: (1) one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 {Count One); (2) one count of possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b) (Count Thirteen); and, (3) one count of possession with intent to distribute approximately 109.7 grams of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b) and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count Fourteen). Indictment at 13, United States v. Winfield, No. 2:95CR193 (E.D. Va. filed Dec. 14, 1995); Judgment in a Criminal Case at 1-3, United States v. Winfield, No. 2:95CR193 (E.D. Va. Aug. 14, 1996) .

On March 17, 2000, the Court denied a motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 filed by Winfield. United States v. Winfield, No. 2:95CR193, 2000 WL 34342565, at *6 (E.D. Va. Mar. 17, 2000) . Since that time, Winfield has inundated the Court with approximately twenty challenges to his conviction and sentence.

In his § 2241 Petition, Winfield challenges his CCE conviction and contends that:

(1) at the time of Winfield's CCE conviction it was settled in this Circuit that possession with the intent to distribute marihuana was a felony offense and could be used as a predicate felony drug violation to convict for engaging in CCE; (2) subsequent to Winfield's direct appeal and first § 2255 motion, the substantive law changed in Moncrieffe [v. Holder, 133 S.Ct. 1678 (2013)] (that possession with the intent to distribute a small amount of marihuana is not a felony), that the CCE conviction can no longer stand because Winfield do[es] not have three . . . predicate felony drug violations as the 21 U.S.C. § 848(c) statute requires for a CCE conviction; and (3) Winfield filed to the . . . Court a § 2255 motion because he is Innocent of engaging in a CCE, but his § 2255 motion was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, and Winfield filed to the . . . Fourth Circuit for permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion but it was denied.

(Mem. Supp. § 2241 Pet, 2.) For reasons set forth below, it is RECOMMENDED that the § 2241 Petition be DISMISSED FOR WANT OF JURISDICTION.

B. Motions under 2 8 U.S.C. § 2255 Compared to Petitions under 28 U.S.C. § 2241

A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 '"provides the primary means of collateral attack'" on the imposition of a federal conviction and sentence, and such motion must be filed with the sentencing court. See Pack v. Yusuff, 218 F.3d 448, 451 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Cox v. Warden, Fed. Det. Ctr., 911 F.2d 1111, 1113 (5th Cir. 1990)). A federal inmate may not proceed under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 unless he or she demonstrates that the remedy afforded by 28 U.S.C. § 2255 "is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of his detention." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e).[2] "For example, attacks on the execution of a sentence are properly raised in a § 2241 petition." In re Vial, 115 F.3d 1192, 1194 n.5 {4th Cir. 1997) (citing Bradshaw v. Story, 86 F.3d 164, 166 (10th Cir. 1996); Hanahan v. Luther, 693 F.2d 629, 632 n.1 (7th Cir. 1982)). Nevertheless, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has emphasized that "the remedy afforded by § 2255 is not rendered inadequate or ineffective merely because an individual has been unable to obtain relief under that provision or because an individual is procedurally barred from filing a § 2255 motion." Id. (citations omitted).

The Fourth Circuit has stressed that an inmate may proceed under § 2241 to challenge his conviction "in only very limited circumstances." United States V. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 269 (4th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted). The "controlling test, " id., in the Fourth Circuit is as follows:

[Section] 2255 is inadequate and ineffective to test the legality of a conviction when: (1) at the time of conviction, settled law of this circuit or the Supreme Court established the legality of the conviction; (2) subsequent to the prisoner's direct appeal and first § 2255 motion, the substantive law changed such that the conduct of which the prisoner was convicted is deemed not to be criminal; and (3) the prisoner ...

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